New ‘super’ council operational by 2015

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A new ‘super’ council for the Derry and Strabane districts should be up and running by 2015.

The news follows the inaugural meeting of the Voluntary Transition Committee (VTC) of Derry City and Strabane District Councils which took place last week.

With the reform of local government included in the Stormont Executive’s Programme for Government, Minister for the Environment Alex Attwood has asked the Council clusters to re-establish the VTCs to prepare for the new Councils in 2015.

Councillor Brenda Stevenson, from Derry City Council, and Councillor Thomas Kerrigan, from Strabane District Council, were appointed Joint Chairs of the Voluntary Transition Committee and meetings will alternate between Derry and Strabane.

The VTC has also considered the guidance issued by the Department of the Environment and has agreed the approach to be taken on the arrangements to support transition working at a local level.

Speaking following the meeting, the Joint Chairs acknowledged the commitment given by the NI Executive in its Programme for Government to deliver on reform of local government.

They also confirmed that both councils will work constructively together to ensure that the new Council will be successfully established by 2015 and “will have the needs of all the citizens of the new district at its core”.

Earlier this year, Alex Attwood kicked off a series of meetings with key council groups to help drive local government reform.

He said he was convinced the reform programme offered a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to re-model local government for the greater good of councils and citizens.

“There is no doubt this will be challenging for us all but ratepayers and businesses should expect nothing less,” he said.

In total, the North is getting 11 new “super councils” to replace the existing 26 local authorities.

Elections to the 11 new “super councils” are expected to take place on the same day as the 2014 European poll.

The new local ‘super’ council will be known as ‘Derry City and Strabane Regional Council’.

In all, it will have 40 electoral wards. As yet, however, it remains uncertain as to how many members it will return.